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Commission closes shark finning loophole
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Published on 21-11-11

The European Commission has proposed to forbid the practice of 'shark finning' aboard fishing vessels at sea without exceptions in a bid to better protect vulnerable shark populations. Shark finning is the practice of cutting off the fins of sharks – often while they are still alive - and then throwing back into the sea the shark without its fins.

    Commission closes shark finning loophole

    The Commission wants all vessels fishing in EU waters and all EU vessels fishing anywhere in the world to have to land sharks with the fins still attached.

    The proposal is the result of a public consultation on how best to strengthen existing EU legislation which bans shark finning, but under certain conditions allows the removal of fins aboard vessels and for fins and shark carcasses to be landed in different ports.

    Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "By closing the loophole in our legislation, we want to eradicate the horrendous practice of shark finning and protect sharks much better. Control will become easier and shark finning much more difficult to hide. I very much look forward to the Council and the European Parliament accepting our proposal, so that it becomes law as soon as possible".

    Background

    The 2003 Regulation on banning the removal of shark fins on board vessels generally bans finning, but it allows by exemption and under certain conditions, the removal of fins aboard vessels and to land fins and shark carcasses in different ports if the weight of the fins do not exceed 5 per cent of the live weight of the sharks caught.

    However, this measure has proven not effective enough. As fins and bodies can be landed in different ports, inspectors must rely on logbook records to determine whether the ratio had been respected. Also, fin-to-carcass weight varies according to species and fin-cutting practices and consequently, shark finning is difficult to detect, let alone to prove in legal proceedings.

    Last but not least, collecting scientific data becomes difficult, which in turn hampers fisheries management and conservation.

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    Last update: 23/11/2011  |Top